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Prefabricated Bridge Elements and Systems

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Construction Industry Efforts and Capabilities to Support PBES Deployment.

William G. Duguay, J.D. Abrams, L.P.
ACG of America

Learning Outcomes

  • Current market conditions
  • Efforts under way to support PBES
  • How other industries do their version of ABC
  • Barriers to implementation
  • Why this should be good

SECTION I. How Current Market Conditions may Affect ABC and PBES

Current Market Conditions and their Effects on:

  1. Lower Bid pricing
  2. Overall Lower Bid Volumes
  3. Growing International presence

Will continue to drive:

  • Adaptability
  • Innovation
  • New/modified uses for existing equipment
  • Bringing new companies into every market
  • Acceptance of European, Asian technology

Speaker Notes:

Current market conditions makes transportation investment ideal, and how will ABC and PBES fit into this?

An estimated 146,000 bridges need work

Every Agency is strapped for funding, and are looking for:

  • New funding streams
  • New delivery methods
  • New designs
  • Raising expectations of performance

Speaker Notes:

146K number per TRIP, The NHS says the majority are less than 90 feet.


SECTION II. Industry Efforts to Support PBES

Speaker Notes:

PBES can be a sole solution based on site constraints of some sort, access constraints or mobility concerns, and these may be more of a requirement than a desire.
What are some of the industry efforts under way to support PBES?

  • Adaptive use of technologies in other industries
  • Collaboration with Universities for research
  • Industry Outreach and Transportation Forums

Major Markets served by the Heavy Lift Industry

Photo of a crane rig.
  • Oil & Gas
  • Nuclear Power
  • Fossil Power
  • Wind Energy
  • General Construction
  • Heavy Civil
  • Project Cargo Logistics

Speaker Notes:

Photo courtesy of Barnhart Crane/Hake Rigging.


Other Industries are used to moving modular units

Photo of modular units being moved by a crane.
Photo’s courtesy of Barnhart Crane

Efforts underway to support PBES Bay Bridge East End Tie In

Photo of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco East Tie-in.

The Bay Bridge in San Francisco East Tie-in, segment skidded over on Labor Day 2009. Weight is 3,300 tons ea. Old piece out, new piece in. Old piece lowered 150 ft to the ground for demo. Courtesy Mammoet.


Redland Rd OR38

Photo of the Redland rd Crossing Project.

Speaker Notes:

Old bridge demolished and new one skidded in. Road closure 1 weekend. There is a nice video of this one on the Oregon DOT website under the Redland rd Crossing Project. Courtesy Mammoet.


Bay Bridge West Tie in

Photo of the Bay Bridge West Tie in.

Speaker Notes:

Done over Labor Day Weekend weight 6,500 tons. Old one demolished conventional way, new one skidded in. Photo Courtesy Mammoet.


Pioneer Crossing, UT

Photo of the Pioneer Crossing in Utah. The bridge is being installed by SPMTs.

Speaker Notes:

Bridge weight around 2,100 tons. Installed with SPMT’s. Road closure from 10.00 PM until 06.00 AM Saturday Courtesy Mammoet.


Scaled for everyday use

Photo of mid sized elements being transported by conventional trucks.

Speaker Notes:

Transport of typical mid sized elements using conventional equipment.


Pieces can be scaled to adapt to conditions and needs.

Interstate 95 Bridge over James River, Virginia — 2002. As shown, mid scale PBES pieces are being scaled using owned equipment.

Speaker Notes:

Mid scale PBES pieces using owned equipment and potential for self fabrication.


Precast segmented abutment

Riverdale Rd over I-84 Salt Lake City, Utah. Precast segmented abutment using conventional equipment and techniqes.

Speaker Notes:

Photo Courtesy Michael Baker Corp/Granite Construction. CM/GC Design Build Riverdale Rd over I-84 Salt Lake City Utah. Small piece size, cast at the project, conventional equipment and techniques used for erection.


Precast columns, caps and abutment

Riverdale Rd over I-84 Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo of precast columns, caps, and abutment.

Speaker Notes:

Photo courtesy Michael Baker Corp/Granite Construction CM/GC Design Build Riverdale Rd over I-84 Salt Lake City Utah.


PBES Doesn’t have to be Huge

Diagram of PBES.

Speaker Notes:

Mill Street Bridge Epping New Hampshire designed and constructed using local resources.


PBES can be something other than steel or concrete.

HCB bridge elements being erected using standard equipment such as cranes and trucks.

HCB Bridge Elements erected using standard equipment

Speaker Notes:

All the way to small scale light pieces where access, distance, remoteness or other constraints are present.

Photos courtesy HCB Bridge


Adaptive reuse of Technology and Equipment

Photos of technology and equipment being reused for bridge construction

Photos Courtesy Barnhart Crane


Marino Proposed Concept

Blueprint proposing the Marino concept.

Speaker Notes:

Proposed method courtesy Barnhart-Marino Crane/Hake Rigging.


International Technologies

Photo of a moveable scaffold under slung system.

Speaker Notes:

The MMS (Moveable Scaffold System) underslung modular deck forming , span by span cast in place self launching form traveler, when there is insufficient room for casting yards or transport of segments is improbable. Photo Courtesy of Harsco Infrastructure Americas.


International Technologies

Photo of a moveable scaffold over slung system.

Speaker Notes:

The MMS Over slung system, span by span cast in place self launching traveler, photo courtesy of Harsco Infrastructure Americas.


Industry is working upstream and downstream

Speaker Notes:

By working with Universities and assisting in research, Industry is exposed to the latest thinking and is on the ground floor with Academia, research organizations and the FHWA is finding new solutions to our transportation issues.


Industry Supported Research University of Washington

Photo of simple footing detail of a cap beam connection.

Working with a Highways for Life Contract, a simple footing detail was developed: "It has definitely been a team effort, with people from all the necessary disciplines actively involved" This included WSDOT, local AGC members and local engineering firms.

Speaker Notes:

Photo courtesy of University of Washington newsletter "The Bridge". Quote from Professor John Stanton. Several different research focus topics have been successfully implemented, including a cap beam connection that is very easy to construct, a bridge bent system that uses unbonded pre-tensioned columns.


HCB Laboratory Validation

Photo of HCB prototypes being tested at the AEWC Lab at the University of Maine.

Speaker Notes:

Lab testing of HCB beams, photo courtesy HCB Bridge, prototype being tested at the AEWC Lab at the University of Maine.


Earthquake testing SUNY Buffalo

Picture of a structural engineering and earthquake simulation laboratory in SUNY Buffalo.

Speaker Notes:

Photo courtesy SUNY Buffalo SEESL – Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory.

Precast Overhangs

Precast overhangs undergoing testing. Photo courtesy Austin Prestress, Texas A&M, Oklahoma Transportation Center and Tyler Ley, PE, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Oklahoma State University

Speaker Notes:

Precast overhangs undergoing testing. Photo courtesy Austin Prestress, Texas A&M, Oklahoma Transportation Center and Tyler Ley, PE, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Oklahoma State University.


From Design, to Lab to Production

Photo of a construction worker on a presstress.

Speaker Notes:

Photo courtesy Austin Prestress, Texas A&M, Oklahoma Transportation Center and Tyler Ley, PE, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Oklahoma State University Rock Creek Bridge, in Parker County just North of Cool, Texas.


Transportation Forums

  • Fast 14 in Massachusetts $78M now underway
  • Columbia River Bridges $3.6B
  • Tappan Zee Bridge $8-16B
  • Ohio River Bridges Project $4B
  • Epping bridge replacement

Speaker Notes:

Industry continually participates in outreach forums. These are large scale examples, but local projects like the Epping Bridge had multiple outreach sessions that industry participated in.


SECTION III. Is ABC/PBES unique to Transportation?

Adapt Delivery methods from other industries:
Manufacturing and Commercial Buildings version of ABC:

  • Lean Construction
    • Do more with less
    • Bring Manufacturing Principles into Construction, focus on the cycle from identification of need thru delivery
    • Each step of the process is monitored and improved
    • Maximize field safety, quality and productivity
  • BIM going horizontal

Speaker Notes:

Many industries value time and quality over initial cost. Newer project financing options also stress delivery time and the opening of facilities to generate revenue.


SECTION IV. What could the barriers to Implementation be?

Projects don’t need to be huge

  • Contractors and Vendors participate in design and constructability reviews for projects of every size
  • Local meetings emphasize local abilities, drawing on national resources when needed

Other perceived barriers

  • Lack of agreement on need for new methodology
  • Is the Risk suitable for the Reward
  • Is the new method going to be part of the Agencies policy going forward
  • Does the bridge portion drive the overall critical path
  • Will money spent on PBES be at the expense of other portions of an Agencies Program

Each of these barriers can be resolved thru communicating the goals of the project

  • The Transportation Industry has many successful projects of:
    • Varying dollar size and local
    • Type of construction and delivery
    • That solved unique needs effectively

SECTION V. Why ABC and PBES can Benefit Industry

Maximizing the Delivery Process PBES can allow:

  • Significant bridge work activities be moved off of the Critical Path
  • Them to be moved out of traffic
  • These activities be consolidated and reduced to minimize the impact on the community
  • Safety, quality, durability, adaptability of our Infrastructure be a larger part of our message

Speaker Notes:

1) Bridge elements can be fabricated at a time convenient to the contractor instead of as dictated by the linear schedule of in place construction.

2) Working in and around traffic continues to be one of the most hazardous portions of highway construction for both the public, the Agency and the Contractor, working outside of the final location may minimize added congestion due to construction activities and lessen the economic impact to adjacent businesses.

3) PBES can reduce the truck traffic from deliveries in the work zone, move them to other project locations and smooth equipment and labor demands on the project.

4) Our Infrastructure when treated as an investment needs to last longer.

2nd: Our Industry Competes for Funding

  • Transportation needs are well known
  • As Funding becomes available, the traveling public will not allow extensive added congestion due to these improvements

How do we improve the highway system to a level of quality the public expects in a timely fashion?

  • Do as much as possible at times and in locations that minimize interference
  • Where that’s not an option, do those portions as safely and as quickly as possible

Speaker Notes:

The public’s perception of "timely" can be based on congestion caused by construction.

  • By using PBES in appropriate situations, we can effectively demonstrate how adaptable the Transportation Industry is, to:
    • Maintain the value of our nations transportation investment
    • Continue to improve the effectiveness of our system to provide safe and reliable transportation at the local and national level

Speaker Notes:

The Construction Industry, along with our engineering firms and vendors are working on PBES in many ways each and every day. We’re working hard to provide appropriate and innovative solutions to our transportation issues; and the AGC and our partners will continue to work to implement the best technology available to support the FHWA’s Every Day Counts Initiative.

Module Conclusion


AGC of America



Page last modified on August 15, 2013.
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